iSci News

The learning of science and the application of science are often performed in isolation from one another, but on November 11, first-year iSci students combined the two in their presentations on the challenges and solutions associated with planetary exploration.

First-years presenting their first research project, A Mission to Mars!

After spending weeks learning about energy flow in chemical reactions, ecological recycling of nutrients, and the importance of eccentricity, greenhouse effects, and albedo in modulating a planet’s surface temperature, students demonstrated how they would apply these concepts to make space travel, research, and colonization a more viable enterprise.

Because the nature of the challenges associated with space travel is so vast and complex, students were required to draw from multiple scientific disciplines to pitch plausible solutions. For example, in an attempt to raise the frigid temperatures on Mars to ones more suitable for agriculture, students explored the possibility of chemical alteration of soil to increase the planet’s light absorbance. To assess the feasibility of life on a planet, students discussed novel chemical methods of detect carbon and nitrogen cycles. Students also used computer simulations to examine how changing a planet’s orbit, affects surface temperatures, and by extension its capacity to support life.

After displaying their research, presenters were given the opportunity to answer questions from curious and critical audience members.  These questions allowed students to further demonstrate their creative solutions to the inherent challenges of space exploration and also served to familiarize students with the practice of scientific defense.

Students excited to share interesting facts they learned throughout the project.

The suitability of this project to Integrated Science comes from the way it encourages students to think of scientific knowledge as a whole, and not as the separated disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics. Through this marriage of fields, students were exposed to science as a potent tool to solve problems, and not merely as a body of information to be learned.

Congratulations first-years on an excellent day of presentations and scientific learning!

Article by: Leeor Greenblat

Photographs by: Sabrina Macklai

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